What Makes You Happy?

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” – Dalai Lama


Many people, me included, began drinking in the hope of finding a route to happiness. Teenage parties were livened up just as soon as a couple of bottles were introduced into the equation, a Friday night with a friend transformed from merely chatting and watching TV together, to uproarious laughter and silliness after a few glasses of Chardonnay had been sunk.

We all want to be happy. Life without happiness is a humdrum existence – we are simply being, rather than living. Alcohol for many is the secret to elevating themselves from mundane to extraordinary, the key to flitting out of normality for a few hours and into another world.

We all strive to be happy, we want to enjoy our time on Earth.

For me, and I am sure countless others, alcohol provided a reliable, cheap and easy way to find happiness. For a while.

One of the problems with utilising alcohol as a means to happiness is that the effects are short-lived and, when they wear off, often difficult to remember. Alcohol is also a depressant, and excessive drinking frequently leads to bouts of anxiety and mood swings.

When we choose to live alcohol-free, we lose that fast-track path of transportation to a different place – something which can take a long time to grow accustomed to living without. Gone is the chance to drift away into a parallel universe, and when times are tough there is no immediately obvious escape route. Living AF means learning to live with ourselves, under every cloud, each ray of sunshine, and amidst the most torrential downpours of unrelenting misery.

Despite booze enabling me to feel happy on many occasions during the twenty years that I spent downing more of the stuff than was good for me, it was a happiness that did not come free from sacrifice. The pay-off for those happy nights dancing and letting my hair down and laughing about nonsense, was terrible mood swings, frightening anxiety attacks and a gradual erosion of my self-confidence.

If the purpose of our lives is to be happy, then for me, this is best achieved through living without alcohol. I can’t fulfil my potential when I drink, I am without self-esteem and uncertain of whom I really am or what I want out of life. I stop caring so much about other people and instead am caught up in obtaining my next fix of wine. When I drink, the ONLY means of finding happiness is to be found at the bottom of a glass.

Nobody strives to be miserable, and without an alternative common and definitive meaning to life, I will settle on the Dalai Lama’s notion of what the purpose of our lives is. I believe that to be truly happy, one needs to exist in a way which the abuse of alcohol quite clearly acts as an obstacle to – to help others, connect with people, care for ourselves, achieve self-fulfilment, find a purpose and know what it is to have self-esteem.

11 thoughts on “What Makes You Happy?

  1. The Buddha would say that you aren’t finding happiness, but rather, just masking your deep dissatisfaction with how your life is. I feel you, though, and I know that sometimes it’s easier to pour yourself a drink than to try and figure out what’s really bothering you. It took a lot of anxiety for me to stop running away from my feelings and face them head-on, and it’s still a struggle some days to get by without the anxiety taking over, and I think I’m better off because of it. I’m not saying drinking is bad, but it isn’t a long-term solution. I hope you find a solution that works for you.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. I stopped drinking two and a half years ago and have never looked back. Drunken happiness is not true, deep-down happiness, something which I have only experienced since quitting drinking. It takes a lot of courage to face problems minus alcohol when you are used to abusing it at every turn, and I commend you for working through your issues. Thanks for commenting, Lucy x

  2. vida005 says:

    You’re a great writer Lucy – this post really stuck a chord – as do so
    many of your posts. You’re very perceptive and spot on! You really do shine a light on a lot of murky stuff and make crystal clear sense. Odd coincidence when this popped into my email – I was just pondering the meaning of life and happiness and how to achieve it.. as you do on a Thursday afternoon!!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Well, once again I feel like I could have written this myself (albeit not as eloquently, I’m sure!). It’s amazing how you put into words *exactly* how I, and countless others am/are feeling. Thanks again! 🙂

  4. I had a real rough day today and reading this hit the spot. It’s so true that the effect of alcohol in giving us that temporary lift is so short lived and the after math of mood swings and depression/anxiety and low self-esteem … well it’s truly not worth it. Thanks for posting this and keeping my strong.

  5. Lucy, this is excellent and so true. I can’t tell you how long it has been since I actually had a drink for pleasure. When I began drinking eons ago, it was at fun, exciting events where a beer or two just seemed to intensify the feeling a bit. But I don’t even know if that’s true anymore. It was probably more the camaraderie and sense of belonging with everyone that intensified the feeling. And I needed that for reasons completely unrelated to booze. For me, although it’s taken me years to realize it, I have spent the subsequent years searching for some elusive happiness high through alcohol that frankly never came, and it never will. You hit it on the head: being truly happy is when you marinate in your own sober life, all of the bad and all of the good, allow yourself to truly feel, and then you can find things/times/events that really make you genuinely happy. That’s my goal anyway. Thanks for all you do!

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